ASHE COUNTY — Roadwork of mountainous proportions continues in widening U.S. 221 to four lanes between Deep Gap and Jefferson, according to NCDOT Division 11 Construction Engineer Trent Beaver.

More than 3 million cubic yards of excavation has been performed on one section of the U.S. 221 widening project, Beaver said, with plenty more truckloads still to haul before the bulk of the project is finished by the end of 2020.

As follows is a breakdown of progress on the $143 million — and counting — U.S. 221 widening project:

Sections A and B — starting from the junction of U.S. 421, continuing past Idlewild Road and across South Fork New River — are clustered into one contract handled since December 2015 by James R. Vannoy & Sons of Jefferson, Beaver said.

The 4.6 mile stretch of road is worth $46.4 million in estimated construction costs, and is expected to be completed by the end of 2019, although traffic may still be in one lane each direction through some segments until sometime in 2020, according to Beaver.

“The project is approximately 87 percent complete,” Beaver said. “The contractor is paving in several areas and working toward opening the interchange to traffic later this summer.”

Section C — past the bridge over South Fork New River to the N.C. 194 junction at Baldwin Road — is contracted for $53 million to Vecellio and Grogan of Beckley, West Virginia, who began work in February 2017, according to Beaver.

The 4-mile stretch of widening highway is about 65 percent complete and scheduled for completion at the end of 2020, Beaver said.

“Approximately 3.1 million cubic yards of the total 3.4 million cubic yards of unclassified excavation has been performed,” Beaver said. “The contractor is continuing installation of drainage and working toward shifting traffic at some locations later this summer in order that work can be pursued along the existing alignment.”

The more than 3 million cubic yards of earth excavated from Section C can be seen in the form of tall slopes that have grown along the roadside as the widening project has progressed.

Section D — from N.C. 194 to the four-way stoplight in West Jefferson — was completed by Vannoy & Sons between March 2015 and January 2019, according to Beaver.

The four miles of four-lane highway still need some slope repair work, but are otherwise completed and open to traffic, Beaver said. The $21.3 million contract price for Section D went over-budget by about $1.3 million, according to Beaver.

Section E — North of the four-way stoplight in West Jefferson to U.S. 221 Business and N.C. 88 in Jefferson — is 3.5 miles long, and scheduled to be let for construction to the tune of $21.2 million come March 17, 2020, Beaver said.

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